Forstner & Fillister: A Comedy of Sibling Rivalry and Woodworking

Forstner & Fillister: A Comedy of Sibling Rivalry and Woodworking

Forstner-Fillister   Photo: Barbara Havrot

Reviewed by Natasha Lomonossoff on Sat. February 17

When a play has a very long title, one knows that some degree of comedy or meta-theatricality is involved. Forstner & Fillister Present: Forstner & Fillister In: Forstner & Fillister, directed by Madeleine Boyes-Manseau at the undercurrents festival at Arts Court, incorporates both. As the audience members enter, they are given credentials for a woodworking conference at which the play takes place. The two wood-working brothers, Forstner (Will Somers) and Fillister (David Benedict Brown) introduce themselves to the audience and give out their business cards. From there, the audience is thrust into the brother’s project of building a table, as well as their world of rivalry and pressure from an increasingly automated industry.

The play itself, as a creation of Somers, Brown, and Boyes-Manseau each, has humour as its principal strength; the jokes cracked by the brothers and their interactions with audience guaranteed laughter throughout. Somers’ astonished facial expressions and straight-forward way of talking, along with Brown’s dopey demeanour and puffed-up sense of superiority as Fillister ensure that the brothers are distinct and memorable characters. And of course, their attempt to build the table provides plenty of comic fodder. More than this, however, the building process which occurs onstage also gives an air of authenticity; one gets a sense of how much work goes into creating wood furniture, as evidenced by the accumulation of sawdust in the air and on the actors’ clothes. Lighting by Seth Gerry also contributes to the onstage atmosphere, giving the audience a clear view of the work being conducted.

Beyond the comic set-up however, are more serious problems lurking: the brother’s struggle to cope with the death of their father, the decline of traditional woodworking in the face of automation and the subsequent rift it creates between them on which approach to take for the future. While these elements do provide more of a background to the play, one is left wondering if they will be properly reflected on by the audience amidst all the jokes and laughter. In this respect, Forstner & Fillister is a show which mostly entertains than facilitates deep thinking or reflection.

Although Forstner & Fillister has finished its run at undercurrents, more information about it can be read here:


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